April 2012

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano has told the governor of Fukui Prefecture that the government has decided it is safe to restart two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi nuclear power plant. Edano said he hoped the governor and local communities would support restarting the reactors, which help power Osaka and the heavily populated Kansai region. The prime minister and three cabinet ministers concluded last week that the plants met safety tests and approved the Ohi operator’s plans to enhance safety equipment at the plant. The government estimates an 18 percent electricity shortfall this summer in the areas served by Kansai Electric if the Ohi reactors remain shut down.
  • Japanese municipalities that host nuclear energy facilities are urging the government to expedite launching the new independent nuclear regulatory organization. An association of the municipalities said the new regulator would bolster public confidence in the safety of restarting reactors that have been shut down for maintenance.
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2012—Bolstering the ability of U.S. nuclear energy facilities to respond safely to extreme events, the industry has met its March 31 deadline for ordering additional on-site portable equipment to be used in emergencies. The equipment would be used if other systems that comprise a facility’s multi-layered safety strategy are compromised. The additional equipment—some of which already has been positioned at plant sites—is a key element of the industry’s FLEX strategy developed in response to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011.

This equipment is part of a commitment by all U.S. companies operating nuclear energy facilities to begin implementing the “flexible and diverse” (FLEX) response strategy by ordering or entering into contract for a plant-specific list of emergency equipment. Each nuclear power plant has multiple safety systems designed specifically for that facility. This initiative provides an additional layer of safety as part of a nuclear power plant’s response capability to extreme natural events.

Every company met the deadline, said Tony Pietrangelo, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. Equipment that has been acquired or ordered includes: diesel-driven pumps, air-driven pumps for flood equipment, sump pumps, hoses, electric generators, battery chargers, electrical switchgear, fittings, cables, fire trucks and satellite communications gear. It also includes support materials for emergency responders.

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McGuire Nuclear Station’s communications manager Valerie Patterson explains the facility’s history to an EnergyExplorium visitor.

McGuire Nuclear Station’s communications manager Valerie Patterson (Click to enlarge.)

As the communications manager at McGuire Nuclear Station in Mecklenburg County, N.C., Valerie Patterson wears many hats: she talks about nuclear energy with audiences of all ages, plans community events, and plays a vital role in the plant’s emergency response organization. While she is a generalist by nature, nothing is more important to Patterson than the relationships she and her team have built with the Lake Norman community and the events that keep local residents coming back to McGuire to learn more.
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The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

The nuclear industry and NRC staff appear generally to be in alignment on a variety of issues regarding the implementation of orders incorporating safety lessons from the agency’s Fukushima task force, though some differences remain to be worked out.

A public meeting last week of NRC and industry Fukushima response steering committees discussed a variety of topics, including seismic revaluations, filtered vents and land contamination.
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The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

Inadequate forecasting of the maximum possible tsunami height led to flaws in flooding protection design for the Fukushima Daiichi plant, resulting in last year’s reactor accident in Japan when the tsunami that struck the plant exceeded the plant’s design basis.

A new analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute said the facility also had limited protection and mitigation capabilities for coping with events that exceed what is accounted for in its design, causing the reactors to lose cooling and backup power and ultimately leading to fuel damage and the release of radiation to the environment.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First